Radio & Energy

Using Monocrystalline vs. Amorphous Solar Panels

One of the best ways to create a self-sustaining source of energy is to use solar panels, which simply convert the energy of the sun into power.

That being said, not all solar panels are created equally, as there are many different types of solar panels out there and that you will need to be aware of. Two of the most common kinds of solar panels are monocrystalline and amorphous solar panels, and these are the two kinds of solar panels that we’re going to talk about today.   We’ll discuss the details of each one and then dive into the pros and cons of each.

Let’s start with the amorphous solar panels:

Amorphous Solar Panels

Amorphous solar panels are also known as ‘thin film’ solar panels.  They are so named because the technology that they use is entirely different from the monocrystalline solar panels, or even other kinds of solar panels such as the polycrystalline.

Amorphous solar panels are a younger technology and are not expected to mature until at least a full decade has passed, as the technology needs to continue to develop.

Basically, amorphous solar panels are built using photovoltaic materials that are deposited over a glass-like solid surface. Amorphous is just one example of a photovoltaic material that is used. Other include copper indium gallium selenide and cadmium telluride.

So, how do amorphous solar panels or thin film solar panels in general perform?  Well, let’s just say that they have low energy efficiency in contrast to other solar panels, which they are widely regarded as being among the worst kinds of solar panels available.

But on the flip side of things, amorphous solar panels are also among the cheapest kinds of solar panels that you can get.  This is predominantly because the materials required to build them are also cheap, which explains why their energy efficiency of around seven to thirteen percent is so low.

That being said, the energy efficiency of amorphous solar panels (as well as thin-film solar panels in general) is expected to rise over the next few years as the technology improves.  It’s not at all unreasonable to assume that we’ll eventually reach energy levels of fifteen percent or higher with amorphous solar panels.

In summary, the advantages of amorphous and thin film solar panels are as follows:

  • They are incredibly cheap and easy to mass produce
  • They are among the most cost-efficient solar panels that homeowners and preppers can buy
  • High temperatures have a smaller impact on their overall performance in contrast to other kinds of solar panels

The disadvantages of amorphous solar panels include

  • They are much energy efficient in contrast to other kinds of solar panels, as a result of the lower cost and cheaper materials used (rates typically fall ten percent or lower).
  • Amorphous solar panels tend to degrade faster than higher quality and more expensive kinds of solar panels
  • The technology for thin film solar panels is still young and maturing

So basically, amorphous solar panels are an excellent solar panel to go with if money is an issue and you need to spend as little as possible.

But if you’re willing to spend more money for a more energy efficient product, you have more options, such as the…

Monocrystalline Solar Panels

Out of all of the basic types of solar panels in existence, monocrystalline solar panels are the oldest and most mature technology.

As the name suggests, monocrystalline solar panels are built using a single silicon crystal structure.  Subsequently, the solar cells of the panel will appear as the same color.

One of the biggest advantages of monocrystalline solar panels is the fact that they are the most energy efficient of any type of solar panel on the market.

With energy efficiency rates commonly approaching twenty percent or more, they can literally offer as much as four times the power as the amorphous solar panels like we discussed previously.   They are also so energy efficient to the point that they can continue to collect energy and provide power to your home even in low light conditions, which will be a major plus for cloudy days.

Furthermore, monocrystalline solar panels also offer the longest service life of any type of solar panels before they will need to be replaced, with most panels lasting twenty-five years at the minimum.

That being said, monocrystalline solar panels are also incredibly expensive, so you’re definitely paying for quality.  If money isn’t an issue, they’ll be the solar panel to go with, but if you’re on a budget you’ll definitely be hard pressed to look elsewhere.

In addition, it’s also important to be aware that monocrystalline solar panels are not the most reliable in rough weather conditions, which can definitely be a major pain.

Yes, they do a very good job of collecting the sun’s energy in low light and cloudy conditions, but when exposed to rain, dirt, or snow you can start to run into problems and their energy efficiency will drop.

This is why you will need to take steps to physically protect your monocrystalline solar panels using materials such as tarps for when the weather goes bad.  It’s certainly a hassle, but there’s a trade-off for everything, right?

Advantages of monocrystalline solar panels include:

  • They are the most energy efficient type of solar panel on the market, with rates commonly reaching 20% or a little higher (up to over four times the power as amorphous solar panels)
  • They utilize the oldest and most mature form of technology of any solar panel
  • They have the longest service life, with most manufacturers of monocrystalline solar panels offering warranties of twenty-five years or longer
  • They perform well in low light conditions

The disadvantages of monocrystalline solar panels are:

  • They tend to be very expensive and are not the best choice for those on a budget
  • When exposed to dirt, snow, or other outside hazards, their energy efficiency will drop dramatically
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